How I Game: Chris Roberts — CEO, Cloud Imperium Games

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Chris Roberts is the creator of Wing Commander and CEO of Cloud Imperium, where he's leading the design of Star Citizen. He may not get much time to play games, but he sure as hell can make them.

Name: Chris Roberts
Occupation: CEO, Cloud Imperium
Location: Santa Monica, California
Twitter: @croberts68

"I tend to try and build things to make them look kind of cool."

Who are you?

I’m Chris Roberts. I am the CEO of Cloud Imperium and, I guess, the designer and project director of Star Citizen, which is an ambitious sort of combination of an open-world sandbox space sim and a single-player narrative story game in the vein of Wing Commander. That’s Squadron 42, the single-player component of Star Citizen.

What’s in your PC?

I tend to build my own PCs, just because I think it’s kind of fun, and it’s not very difficult nowadays. The one that’s on my desk that I built has an Intel 3930K, which I’ve overclocked. It’s sitting on an ASUS Rampage board and I run a GTX 690 in it. I’ve got 32 gigabytes of Corsair Dominator Platinum memory. It’s all cooled with a closed-loop water cooler: the Corsair H100i. My PSU is the Corsair AX860i. That pretty much covers it. My primary drive is a 512 gigabyte SSD. I think it’s an ADATA XPG 900, maybe? Then I have a three-terabyte 7200RPM Barracuda as my data drive.

I’ve got an Oculus Rift development kit sitting on my desk, so I have two monitors. One monitor is the ASUS PE278, it’s the 2560 by 1440 high-res IPS monitor. Then on my left, I’ve got the 1920 by 1080 Nvidia 3D monitor. I think my sound thing is whatever Corsair makes. I’ve got a pretty decent sound system. It’s not a bad rig. My home machine has also got an X79 hexacore in it, but it’s got the 3960X, which is overclocked again. They’re both overclocked about 4.4, 4.5. It’s also got an ASUS motherboard, but it’s the deluxe X79 one. I’ve got two 680s in SLI in my home machine. Again, a 512-megabyte primary SSD and a three-terabyte data drive.

What’s the most interesting part of your setup?

I tend to try and build things to make them look kind of cool. The one I’ve got here on my desk has this Republic of Gamers ASUS card and the motherboard has got that red and black theme, so everything is themed that way, even the Corsair water cooler. I’ve got it switched to the red LED. The case it’s in is a Corsair C70 Vengeance case, which is actually quite a nice case. It has a nice big open panel on the side so you can see in. It’s got tool less access which is really quite nice. It’s a fast machine. It’s good for development.

What’s on your desk?

I’ve got a Razer Black Widow mechanical keyboard, which is awesome, and a Razer DeathAdder mouse, and a nice big Razer mousepad. Razer’s been quite nice to us. One of the nice things about being a pretty high-profile crowdfunded project, especially one that’s pushing PCs and peripherals, is that a lot of people like Razer that specialize in equipment for gamers have been very kind and happy to share some of their cool equipment. On my desk is their keyboard and mouse. I already talked about the Oculus Rift. I don’t have it hooked up here, but at home I’ve got the Saitek X52 joystick and throttle setup.

What are you playing right now?

"I like to escape into different worlds. That drives the games I make. It’s about immersion into another world."

I wish I had a bit more time to play. Since Star Citizen went full throttle, I haven’t had much time. Non-PC games, I was playing a bit of The Last Of Us, which is pretty awesome, even though it’s on the PS3 hardware. It’s pretty amazing how much they’ve pushed out of it. On the PC, Company of Heroes 2. I liked the original a lot. I haven’t had a chance to play very deep into it, though. And I just downloaded XCOM, the one that was out a little while ago. I’ve been playing and checking that out. But I haven’t had a chance to get too deep into games, because the problem is, when I get into a game, I want to finish it. [laughs] That leads to a week, two weeks of being up to four or five in the morning. That’s not too good when you’ve got deadlines. We’ve got this hangar module we have for Star Citizen that we’re trying to get out for Gamescom on the 24th of August. Then we’ve got to work on all the other ships.

What’s your favorite game and why?

That’s really kind of hard, because I think it depends on—I would say that I would break it down, “At this point, in this era, this was one of my favorite games. In this era, this was one of my favorite games."

Most recently, on the PC...the problem with PC games recently is that there haven’t been many PC-specific games. We’ve had more ports from consoles. That’s one of the reasons why I started to do Star Citizen. Generally, the RTS stuff, StarCraft II I played a lot. Diablo III, obviously. I played Skyrim on the PC, which was much better than on the console, because of the higher res and a whole bunch of other stuff. The Witcher. I’m trying to think of more recent PC stuff I played. I intended to play the Mass Effect games all on the PC, so I actually did the first one and the second one on the PC. Dragon Age. I quite liked the first Dragon Age by BioWare. Not so much the second one, but the first one was pretty cool.

Those are the sort of stuff that I’ve been playing. I think the other one that I played a lot on PC—I switched up between PC and console—was Battlefield. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and then Battlefield 3. I like that version of multiplayer, where you fight in a team environment, versus the Call of Duty one where it’s much quicker paced and more solo-focused. I really like that combined arms—you get into a tank with a friend of yours. You’re running the machine gun and keeping off the engineers planting charges and all that kind of stuff.

Why do you game?

I like to escape into different worlds. That drives the games I make. It’s about immersion into another world. I’m not really playing a game to rack up a high score or even for competitive stuff, although sometimes competition—like doing StarCraft competitively—is kind of fun. But it’s the immersion for me. I like to get lost in a world. I like to go and do things that you wouldn’t do in your normal life. You can see that in Star Citizen. Flying a spaceship out in the outer frontier of the galaxy is not something you’re going to do in your real life. Fighting dragons or demons and all that kind of stuff. For me, it’s an escape and an immersion into another world.

How I Game is a weekly spotlight of developers, pro gamers, and community members. Know someone who you’d like to see featured? Drop a comment below.